The Art (& Science) of Great Teaching

Here’s my new TEDx talk, or, as I like to call it, the video that makes you wonder when Sam will take his hand out of his pants.

Categories: Learning, Teacher Quality

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  1. Sheryl Morris
    Posted October 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed this talk. “I knew it when I saw it,” when I observed a Montessori classroom.
    Who am I? A life-long seeking of truth and balance. “A lot harder to deliver?” Yes, in some respects, initially, because of how ingrained the “industrial style of teaching/learning is. But not “a lot harder” once we orient all to being more responsible for their own education. This doesn’t, at all, mean that education is just left up to each individual. It will mean, that students will be asked, “What do you want to learn about?” What a concept! True learning progresses when involved in that which you have an interest.

  2. Posted October 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Amen to that, Sheryl. And yes it’s a lot harder, and a lot more rewarding.

  3. Dr.Y
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink


    Watched your TEDx … liked it very much. I was most intrigued by the idea that data is something given (and I will add not just collected). Really a tough idea to get across to a tea party candidate (a little humor?) When I think about my own classroom, my family, my politicians, and what they “give” it brings up a mindstorm. How much is said to a parent by a child, when you are reading a book or watching a movie and they simply rest their hand on yours. They have given data that emotes love, trust, security etc. For obvious reasons, we would not expect that from our students, but there is other data given by students that can give a teacher the same understanding. Engaged students (and unengaged students) supply data every day; but not the type that superintendents are looking for even though it can be the most informative for teachers.

    In my classroom, I give students choice. The choices result in grades, competence, self-advocacy, pride, and a feeling of completeness. I don’t punish. I don’t check to make sure all tasks are completed by students, but I provide opportunities for all students to check their work. I don’t make students come see me for extra help, rather I provide endless opportunities and invitations for students to come and get help. (I devise my working schedule to be available.) In other words I give students opportunities to freely develop capacity and practice self control in pursuit of their own learning. Somehow, by combining the art and science, and having the freedom to act this way, I am able to get as much if not more out of my students without coercion in the traditional graded, gottcha method. The feedback, or the data that I collect can be seen in the list of students that I work with before school, the students who are comfortable coming to my classroom voluntarily to work together, and of course in their achievement grades.

    My fear is that I will not be able to continue what I am doing. I will be forced add faddish teaching techniques and collect data that only the business minded managers can understand. They can’t understand spending two years, six trimesters, cultivating and growing trusting working relationships.

    I like your TEDx talk. The question for me remains, “How can we make it come true?”


  4. Posted October 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Great comments and insights, Sam — and an appropriate final question. Here’s my first crack at answering it, with the understanding that it is a question we and others will continue to answer for the rest of our careers.

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